Cuccinelli Pulls To Dead-Heat With McAuliffe

Terry McAuliffe, Ken Cuccinelli / AP
February 21, 2013

Virginia’s race for governor between Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAulife is now in a dead heat, according to recent a Quinnipiac poll.

The poll, released Wednesday, shows the candidates in a 38-38 tie.

Quinnipiac also concludes the election is not yet close enough for the majority of Virginians to have formed opinions on the candidates.

"Although the folks in Richmond are paying close attention to the political maneuvering around the governor’s race, most Virginians have not yet begun focusing on it," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Neither candidate is well known by all Virginia voters. Cuccinelli has been the state’s attorney general since 2009, but 44 percent of poll respondents still claim to not know enough about him.

Sixty percent of respondents say that they do not know enough about McAuliffe to have an opinion about him.

This is not McAuliffe’s first appearance in Virginia politics or even his first attempt for governor. McAuliffe was defeated by more than 20 points in the Democratic primary by state Sen. Creigh Deeds in the 2009 gubernatorial race. Deeds was defeated almost as handily by Republican Bob McDonnell.

Although the current race is still in its infancy, it seems more information about McAuliffe may lead to less favorable results in the polls for him.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they did not know enough about McAuliffe in Quinnipiac’s November poll. He was leading Cuccinelli by four percentage points at that time.

McAuliffe is known much better for his political connections and fundraising prowess than for his accomplishments.

Known to some as "the Macker," McAuliffe once raised over $26 million in one night for the DNC, causing Gore to describe him as "the greatest fund-raiser in the history of the universe."

He also was a bundler for President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, is former President Bill Clinton’s "professional best friend," and recently went golfing with both of them.

Aside from fundraising milestones and the publishing of What a Party! My Life Among Democrats: Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators and Other Wild Animals in 2007, his name seems to be associated with more controversies than accomplishments.

The latest controversy relates to GreenTech, an electric car company he purchased from China.

McAuliffe decided to open a plant in Horn Lake, Miss., even though GreenTech is headquartered in Virginia.

McAuliffe had a celebration for the opening of the plant, attended by President Clinton and former Mississippi Republican Gov. Haley Barbour. According to the New York Times, Barbour, a former business partner of McAuliffe’s, enticed GreenTech to Mississippi with a "package of tax and infrastructure incentives."

The Cuccinelli campaign went on the attack, saying that McAuliffe "only has himself to blame for creating jobs in Mississippi that could have been created in Virginia."

McAuliffe responded that Virginia was GreenTech’s first choice and that it did try to build the plant in Virginia, but that the Virginia Economic Development Partnership decided it was not interested in working with GreenTech.

Politifact Virginia, a project of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, rated McAuliffe’s excuses for opening the plant outside of the state as "false."

Contrary to McAuliffe’s explanation, email records show that the VEDP was in the process of deciding whether to partner with GreenTech when the decision was made to open the plant in Mississippi.

The race is still young. It remains unclear whether voters getting to know "the Macker" will be a good thing for his campaign.